A look at what’s happening in the Champions League on Tuesday:
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp would love to have the opportunity to rest his key players after a grueling run of matches that has stretched his injury-hit squad. Klopp won't be doing it against Napoli, however. Not with top spot in the group still up for grabs — and not with Napoli “maybe the in-form team in Europe at the moment,” according to Klopp. “This is not a game for massive rotation,” said Klopp, whose team has lost back-to-back games in the English Premier League but has won four in a row in the Champions League to qualify for the last 16. Napoli, which has a club-record 13 straight wins across all competitions, is looking to complete a perfect group stage of six straight victories and will clinch top spot in the group if it avoids defeat at Liverpool by four goals or more. Rangers is looking to claim a first point in the group when Ajax visits in the other game. Ajax will finish third, and therefore drop into the Europa League knockout-round playoffs, by avoiding defeat by five goals or more.
Already out of contention for the knockout stage, Atlético Madrid tries to at least salvage a third-place finish and a spot in the Europa League playoffs. Atlético visits Porto sitting one point in front of Bayer Leverkusen, which hosts Club Brugge. Porto and Brugge are still fighting for first place, with Brugge one point ahead. Atlético won the Europa League the last two times it was eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League — in 2009-10 and 2017-18. Atlético is not expected to have striker Álvaro Morata available after he picked up an injury on Saturday in the team’s 3-2 loss at Cádiz in the Spanish league.
The four finishing positions are already set but second-placed Inter Milan will be keen to avenge its opening round defeat to group winner Bayern Munich, which will be looking to complete back-to-back perfect group stage campaigns. Inter lost at home to Bayern 2-0 before winning three of its next four matches without conceding a goal, drawing the other at Barcelona 3-3. Inter will again be without Romelu Lukaku, however. The forward made a scoring return late against Viktoria Plzeň last week but has sustained another hamstring injury. Out of the knockout stage and with a Europa League playoff spot secured, Barcelona finishes its Champions League campaign looking to go out on a positive note in its visit at winless Plzeň. Barcelona defeated Plzeň in its opener but was winless in its next four games in the group stage.
In a rare occurrence for a group, all four teams enter the final round of games with a chance to advance. First-placed Tottenham was denied a stoppage-time goal by VAR last week that would have secured a win over Sporting and a place in the knockout stage. Now, the English team is vulnerable heading to Marseille, which is in last place — two points behind Tottenham — but will go through with a victory at Stade Velodrome. Sporting hosts Eintracht Frankfurt and will advance by avoiding defeat. Frankfurt is level on points with Sporting but behind courtesy of its home loss to the Portuguese team in their first meeting. Frankfurt will advance with a win and can still top the group.
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The Associated Press